Endowment Returns Slow; Survey Offers Peek at Spending

"The annual study of endowments, released by the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the financial services company TIAA, includes an enticing bit of data about how colleges and universities spend the money their endowments generate. On average, 49 percent of total endowment withdrawals go toward student scholarships and financial aid programs. Another 16 percent of endowment spending goes toward supporting academic programs, 10 percent supports faculty positions and 7 percent supports campus operations.

The remaining 18 percent falls under a category covering all other purposes. It would include any number of functions, like hospital operations, patient health care or community services.

In general, institutions with larger endowments tended to report dedicating lower percentages of their endowment spending to financial aid than those with smaller endowments. But those wealthier institutions still spend more on financial aid when measured in dollars, because their endowments generate so much more money."

-Rick Seltzer